The H-Spot: The Feminist Pursuit of Happiness

by Jill Filipovic

Hardcover, 2017




Bold Type Books (2017), Edition: 1, 336 pages


What do women want? The same thing men were promised in the Declaration of Independence: happiness, or at least the freedom to pursue it. For women, though, pursuing happiness is a complicated endeavor, and if you head out into America and talk to women one-on-one, as Jill Filipovic has done, you'll see that happiness is indelibly shaped by the constraints of gender, the expectations of feminine sacrifice, and the myriad ways that womanhood itself differs along lines of race, class, location, and identity. In The H-Spot, Filipovic argues that the main obstacle standing in-between women and happiness is a rigged system. In this world of unfinished feminism, men have long been able to "have it all" because of free female labor, while the bar of achievement for women has only gotten higher. Never before have women at every economic level had to work so much (whether it's to be an accomplished white-collar employee or just make ends meet). Never before have the standards of feminine perfection been so high. And never before have the requirements for being a "good mother" been so extreme. If our laws and policies made women's happiness and fulfillment a goal in and of itself, Filipovic contends, many of our country's most contentious political issues--from reproductive rights to equal pay to welfare spending--would swiftly be resolved. Filipovic argues that it is more important than ever to prioritize women's happiness-and that doing so will make men's lives better, too. Here, she provides an outline for a feminist movement we all need and a blueprint for how policy, laws, and society can deliver on the promise of the pursuit of happiness for all.… (more)


½ (16 ratings; 3.6)

User reviews

LibraryThing member rivkat
How the intersection between misogyny and America’s anti-pleasure culture makes everything worse. Nothing shocking if you’ve been reading in the feminist blogosphere, but a good overview of everything from work to motherhood to sex to food. Prioritizing one’s own happiness is, for women, a
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huge and radical act, and one that is likely to draw condemnation from all sides. (See, e.g., internalized misogyny in fandom that combines with ageism.) This isn’t limited to sex, but Filipovic argues that sex is a big part of it. “Lesbians orgasm 75 percent of the time, which is almost as often as men who have sex with women orgasm, suggesting the problem is less the female body than either male sexual aptitude or male sexual effort.” If sex was just good, not shameful and threatening, “the entire experience of womanhood—the definition of womanhood—would be unrecognizable.” But for women, being “good” has too long meant saying no—to sex, to food, to pleasure. Sacrifice and fear—avoiding parties, worrying about attacks in parking lots, wearing high heels, spending hours on makeup—are too central to “womanhood” in America.

And then there’s motherhood: borrowing from Adrienne Rich, Filipovic reminds us that “mothering” is an ongoing action, and “fathering” is an emission, and that’s a big problem. Work as a source of positive identity is a goal: daughters of mothers who work for money are higher-achieving than daughters of mothers who don’t work outside the home, and their sons do more work at home, including childcare. Contrariwise, men whose wives stay at home are more likely to discriminate against female coworkers—Mike Pence to the contrary. Yet high-achieving men are much more likely to assume that their wives won’t work, whereas high-achieving women think that they’ll both work (and are attracted to men with similar ambitions to their own, setting them up for a big clash). Most such men ended up satisfied, while many of their female peers found themselves driven out of the workforce if they married and had children. The problems of poor working women are different and shameful for us as a nation, but also gendered and raced. Poor women lack respect, time, and child care along with money and good work, and these things reinforce each other and are used to blame women for their own situations.
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LibraryThing member bemislibrary
Filipovic writes about the stigmas, barriers, sunk costs, and prospects available to females. She looks at sex, relationships, family, work, and society beliefs. The good news is that there are many more opportunities for women to be happy. The bad news is there are political, sexual, and cultural
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obstacles to overcome. At the time of publication, adolescent and adult females continued to be subjected to feminine beauty stereotypes through media and interpersonal communications. According to the statistics provided, neatly fifty percent of adult females have been experienced sexual violence during their life. Some will dismiss the author’s arguments as feminist assertions. Her message really boils down to consent. Women giving permission and having say in how they are treated, how they treat others, and how to share basic values as human beings that respect each other.

I was randomly chosen through a Goodreads Giveaway to receive this book free from the publisher. Although encouraged, I was under no obligation to write a review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
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LibraryThing member arosoff
The book has a good thesis--that women should seek to maximize their happiness. There's a lot of good material scattered through the book. Despite that, it doesn't really succeed, largely because Filipovic doesn't know what kind of book she wants to write. The scope is too wide: each chapter
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focuses on a part of women's lives that could take a book to cover thoroughly on its own. The content flips between research, interview material, and her own thoughts, and it's an uneven mix. She's upfront that she's exactly the kind of middle class white woman that's been too visible in feminist texts, and she does try to bring in data and interviews from people who aren't like her, but in sections, her voice dominates. It's most noticeable in the Parenting chapter, where her lack of personal experience with the topic makes her musings sit somewhat uneasily and her recommendations feel too packaged. In addition, while she is aware of her race and class, and religion gets a nod in the sex chapter, other issues go unmentioned--disability is barely spoken about.

It's not bad, but if you've read any of the recent books about feminism as applied to people's lives, it probably won't tell you anything new.
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LibraryThing member wagner.sarah35
For a woman, what would it take to be happy? While the ground covered in this book (work/life balance, sex, parenting) is familiar from many books and journalism centered around women, this is one of the only books I've encountered which frames women's issues (for lack of a better term) around
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happiness. The author has a lot of good points and I hope more people read it. Despite being written a few years ago now, this book pretty much holds up. If you're a feminist and/or interested in these topics, I would recommend giving this book a try.
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Original language


Physical description

336 p.; 6.5 inches


1568585470 / 9781568585475
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